july 2012 cultivate
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DESCRIPTIONIntroduced in July 2008, Cultivate is published quarterly with a focus on safe, fresh and locally grown foods and the Virginia farms that produce them.
Virginia Farm Bureau
One farm, six generations: I thinkthats pretty sustainable
12 Family farm is not a size Visit two larger-scale family farmsand the families themselves.
5 Virginians to vote on property rights amendment this fall This November, Virginians will vote on a constitutional amendment to curb eminent domain abuse. Its a cause Farm Bureau has supported for several years.
22 The backyard gardeners basics of weeding and watering Out-of-control weeds or a lack of water can shut down a home garden. Keep those tomatoes and peppers coming in with some basic weed control and irrigation practices.
6 Heart of the Home
8 Good for You!
20 In the Garden
22 From the Ground Up
Publication scheduleAssociate members will receive their next issue of Cultivate in November. The magazine is published quarterly.
On the Cover
Margaret Ann Smith and her brother are the sixth generation to be involved in her familys Rockbridge County farm (Photo by Kathy Dixon).
Volume 5, Number 3July 2012
Cultivate (USPS 025051) (ISSN 1946-8121) is published four times a year, February, April, July, November/December (combined issue). It is published by Virginia Farm Bureau Federation, 12580 West Creek Parkway, Richmond, VA 23238. Periodicals postage rate is paid in Richmond, VA. The annual subscription rate is $1.48 (included in membership dues).
POSTMASTER: Please send changes of address to, Cultivate, Virginia Farm Bureau Federation, P.O. Box 27552, Richmond, VA 23261; fax 804-290-1096. Editorial and business offices are located at 12580 West Creek Parkway, Richmond, VA 23238. Telephone 804-290-1000, fax 804-290-1096. Email address is Cultivate@vafb.com. Office hours are 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday.
All advertising is accepted subject to the publishers approval. Advertisers must assume liability for the content of their advertising. The publisher maintains the right to cancel advertising for nonpayment or reader complaints about services or products. The publisher assumes no liability for products or services advertised.
Member: Virginia Press Association
Greg Hicks Vice President, Communications
Pam Wiley Managing Editor
Kathy Dixon Sr. Staff Writer/Photographer
Sara Owens Staff Writer/Photographer
Bill Altice Graphic Designer
Maria La Lima Graphic Designer
Cathy Vanderhoff Advertising
VISIT US ONLINE
Members Address change?If your address or phone number has changed, or is about to change, contact your county Farm Bureau. They will update your membership and subscription information.
3VirginiaFarmBureau.com Cultivate JULY 2012
Food for Thought
About 2 percent of the U.S. population is involved in production agriculture.
We live in a nation of 313 million people, on a planet with a population of 7 billion. We dont all look alike, or vote alike (if we can vote) or live in the same kinds of homes or buy the same kinds of groceries.
But, weve all got to eat on something of a regular basis.
Obviously, thats where agriculture comes into play, as it did ages ago. Historically, people have farmed to feed their families and their communities, and today about 2 percent of the U.S. population are farming to feed not only their neighbors but also people theyll never meet, in places theyll never see, in other parts of the world.
Youve met some of them. Theyre selling their products at local farmers markets.
Some of them youre less likely to meet. They raise the hay and grains used to feed the animals that become your steaks, lamb kabobs and fried chicken. They grow the wheat, oats and corn for your cereal, bread and tortillas and the soybeans for your tofu.
Large-scale family farmsthose with annual sales of $250,000 or moremake up only 10 percent of U.S. farms, but they produce the largest share of farm productsmore than 80 percent.
They also have more invested in the supplies, equipment, labor and technology needed to keep up with the growing global demand for food. Theyre the big farms with lots of acres or, in the case of livestock producers, lots of animals.
Somewhere along the line, some of these farms got labeled factory farms. The earliest use of the term documented by Merriam-Webster is 1868, shortly after the Industrial Revolution. The comparison of a large-scale farm to a factory in that era of tremendous change is not surprising.
At the same time, its not accurate. You
Coming to terms with conventional agriculture
cant create turkeys or pigs using steam- or coal-driven machines or even electric ones. You can use those technologiesand advances in crop science and veterinary medicineto keep those animals fed and watered and ensure that their environment is comfortable and safe. And you can use those resources to raise food animals in a uniform manner that ensures grocery shoppers consistently get the product they expect.
The M-W.com definition of a factory farm is a large industrialized farm; especially: a farm on which large numbers of livestock are raised indoors in conditions intended to maximize production at minimal cost.
If you read down a little farther, to the reader comments, theres one from an Oklahoma farmer who defines factory farm as a derogatory term used to
generate an emotional response for opponents of certain types of production.
Based on the Merriam-Webster definition, he notes, most intensive confinement operations would not fall under this term because while maximizing production and minimizing costs is a goal in all forms of agriculture, that is not the only objective or even the primary one.
For that reason, this issue of Cultivate features profiles of two larger Virginia farms and the families who operate them (See Page 12). And the November/December issue will feature more profiles.
Those families, like the families who operate 98 percent of Virginia farms, remain committed to healthy land, healthy food and a healthy future. And they told us to come on outand take pictures.
4 Cultivate JULY 2012 VaFarmBureau.org
by pam wiley
Farm real estate accounted for 84 percent of the total value of U.S. farm assets in 2009, according to a U.S. Department of Agriculture report released earlier this year. And strong farm earnings might have helped farmland real estate markets withstand the downturn in the residential housing market.
Thats according to the USDA Economic Research Services Trends in U.S. Farmland Values and Ownership, released in February. The report calls changes in farmland values a critical barometer of farm sector performance and the financial well-being of agriculture.
Land frequently is the largest single investment among a farms assets and a principal source of collateral when farmers seek business loans. Many farm operators also rely on landholdings as a retirement fund.
Farmland values called barometer for industrys well-being
About 40 percent of the United States land base was occupied by farms in 2007, the most recent year for which that data is available. Most farmland is in the Midwest, but it exists in all 50 states.
U.S. farmland values rose throughout much of the post-World War II period, ERS reported, and increased 92 percent between 1969 and 1981. After that they began to drop in response to rising interest rates and high energy prices. In 2005 and 2006, they increased 16 percent and 10 percent, respectively. Growth in values has slowed since then but continues to increase by 3 percent to 5 percent annually.
by kathy dixon
Dominos Pizza has bucked the trend of restaurants buying meat from suppliers who shun industry-accepted animal welfare practices.
The companys shareholders rejected a request from the Humane Society of the United States to stop using pork from suppliers who confine breeding pigs in gestation crates.
"We rely on animal experts to determine what is the best way to raise an animal that's being used for food," said Dominos spokesman Tim McIntyre.
Gestation crates confine pregnant sows and protect them and their newborn piglets from other aggressive sows. Under pressure from HSUS, McDonalds and Wendys have committed to ending pork purchases from suppliers who use the crates.
Its a relief knowing that there are still companies out there who base their purchasing decisions on common sense
ERS found that the average per-acre value of farmland in Virginia was $4,600 in 2010. In the agencys Appalachian Region, which includes Virginia, 28 percent of farmland was found to be owned by persons other than the farm operators.
Nationwide, less than 2 percent of privately owned farmland and forestland was found to be foreign-owned; most of that is forestland in Maine, and the majority of foreign owners are individuals or businesses in Canada (34 percent) and the Netherlands (17 percent).
Farm earnings in a given year and soil quality are two factors that can drive farmland values. Other factors are less farm-related; farmland near urban centers can generate returns with its residential and commercial development potential. Additional drivers include scenic views, desirable climates and other factors that attract people to rural areas.
The full ERS report is available online at ers.usda.gov/Publications/EIB92/EIB92.pdf.
and trust the experts to know what is in the best interest of animals bred for food, said Lindsay Reames, assistant director of governmental relations for Virginia Farm Bureau Federation.
Animals raised for food in co